After experiencing many incidents of my life beyond my imagination and referring many instances happened in front of my own eyes, I started grumbling, thinking and arrived to the conclusion that why people are smiling even when they are in deep pain. Is it because they want to really smile or to hide the pain or to pretend.
It’s easy to look at people and make quick judgment about them, their present and their past but you would be amazed at the pain and tears a single smile hides. What the person shows to the world is only one tiny facet of the iceberg hidden from sight. And more often then not, it’s lined with cracks and scars that go all the way to the foundation of their soul.
It is widely known fact that laughter (smile) is the best medicine for curing several diseases. Smiling, even with no emotion behind it, may help people tolerate pain. It is an emotional and psychological change taking place in the facial expression depending on the circumstances. It also shows less physiological stress as measured by heart and skin conductance.
Have you ever heard the advice “fake it till you make it,” meaning act like you’ve achieved something until you really do achieve it? Research indicates that this may be true of smiling.
Scientists and anthropologists have long known that smiling is a universal human trait—across cultures and languages, in all parts of the world, a smile indicates happiness or pleasure. Then some scientists started wondering if it works the other way around: whether smiling can actually create good emotions, or moderate bad ones.
One of the first major studies that looked into this was published in 1983 in the journal Science. University of Washington psychologist Marsha Linehan and her colleagues found that when people altered their facial expressions on a purely muscular level, their emotions were affected, and so was activity in the nervous system associated with positive or negative emotions.
Since then, many studies have shown that facial expressions really can influence how we feel, and not just show it. In one particularly memorable experiment, psychologists at the University of Cardiff in Wales found that people who had received Botox treatments, which stiffens the face and makes frowning more difficult, reported being more happy than comparable non-Botoxed people.
In this study, Pressman’s team looked at the effects of smiling on pain tolerance. Past work had already indicated that smiling could have this benefit. Their study focused on a very specific experience—an injection—and also took care to remove the volunteers’ existing knowledge of what smiling means out of the picture.
How did they do that? They didn’t tell the subjects that the study had anything to do with smiling. Instead, they said it was about “multi-tasking.” They said that they wanted to keep the subjects occupied with a muscular task by holding chopsticks in their mouth in different positions. What the volunteers didn’t know was that these chopsticks were being carefully arranged to produce very specific types of smiles.
After doing some tasks that were basically designed to mislead the subjects about the study’s true intention, they were told they would be getting an injection. Volunteers not only reported less pain when their facial muscles had been manipulated into a smile, but their bodies also showed signs of reduced stress (changes in heart rate and electrical conductance across the skin).
Pressman says her team isn’t sure if telling someone to smile would have the same effect, since people might resist the idea of smiling when they don’t want to. However, if they can get people to do it consistently, especially children, it could be a safe, effective, and cost-free form of pain management.